Friday, September 28, 2012

“Live and Lively Radio” in the late 1950’s. I was there…wasn’t I ?

In 1957 I started working for the American Broadcasting Network in NY City. I wrote promotional material urging clients to buy airtime on our live radio shows. TV was just coming into it’s own and we were pulling out all the stops to keep radio alive. Our campaign was called “Live and Lively Radio” and we had an array of celebrities (such as Jim Reeves, Merv Griffin, Jim Backus, Herb Oscar Anderson) performing live shows weekly.

A few years back I wrote a blog entry about this and decided to do a fact research first rather than relying on my memories alone. I was surprised to find that none of the bio’s of the celebrities that I remembered listed them as being on ABN radio at that time. It was terribly frustrating. I knew I was part of that era … I’d lived it but I could find no proof that it actually existed. Was I there or did I just dream it ???

No wonder I was thrilled last week when I received an email from the son of Scott Vincent…(staff announcer for ABC radio and TV from the mid 50’s. until his death in 1979)… trying to verify his Dad’s early days in radio and specifically his involvement with the “Merv Griffin Show” … one of the ones I’d promoted.

Through multiple emails with him I’ve learned that my memory is not that accurate when it comes to specific addresses. However, the performers that I wrote about are etched in my memory correctly and I was also able to recall one specific promotional gala where most of them were present. Even the crew from the Chicago based “Breakfast Club with Don Mcneill” were there. Our give-away promo item at that event was a record album featuring songs and performances from our live radio shows.

When I reported this to my new friend he went to work and actually found a description and photo of the album You see it pictured here and it’s entitled “The Live One is American Broadcasting Network”. Unfortunately it was a “sold” item on eBay so we are still searching. We feel sure that if we find a copy of the album the write up on the back cover will answer a lot of our questions…

…and now I can say, in all honesty, I WAS THERE
A pregnant me in 1959

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Serendipity & “The Carolina Chocolate Drops”

In March of this year my daughter, son-in-law and I attended a concert featuring Peggy Seeger. She was wonderful and it was like icing on the cake when she introduced us to an audience member she’d mentored since she was a small child. This was Rhiannon Giddens, the lead singer of the Durham, NC based Carolina Chocolate Drops .

Rhiannon agreed to sing for us and she captured out hearts with a song she’d written herself, accompanied only by her banjo. It was my introduction to the group and I couldn’t wait to hear more.

Since that evening I’ve learned that the Carolina Chocolate Drops are actually one of the most listened to Folk Groups in our country. They certainly deserve the honor and if you haven’t heard them yet you’re in for a treat.

Now here’s the serendipity part of my story. It was Saturday night and I had TV playing in the background as I did some work on my computer. It was a musical offering…a rerun of a tribute to Johnny Cash with different groups performing. It was good but I was tired and just about to call it a night when I heard that the next in line were the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

What a treat ! I turned off the computer, went in and watched their performance and then wrote a short email to my kids in NY telling them how much I’d enjoyed it.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email back within the hour. They were writing to tell me that they had just returned home from a concert at the Fisher Center at Bard College in Red Hook and guess who they saw?           None other than the CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS !!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I’m one of “those people” … are you ???

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to do the right thing. I’ve worked hard and paid my taxes, including payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security. Now I am a senior citizen and living on a fixed income and I receive a monthly check from the government … and yes, it’s true that I don’t pay Federal Income taxes.

So that makes me part of the 47% of “those people” that Mitt Romney so glibly has decided to ignore. Those are the ones he says …“believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.”

In other words…lazy losers who contribute nothing and live on government handouts. Well, if I’m in that group it’s news to me. The small Social Security check I receive from the government monthly is not a handout… it’s recompense for paying into the SS fund faithfully until my retirement, at age 68, in 2001 and, as promised, it does provide security for my old age.

I’ve tried to keep an open mind but this last gaff by Mitt Romney is just too incredible to ignore. Can it possibly be true that he fails to realize that nearly a third of the 47% he’s disparaging are senior citizens like me with an income less than $16,812 a year?

…And, even more intriguing, is he ignoring the fact that many of them are Republicans and Independents?             Hmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Some of you may remember the Un-birthday party that my daughter and her husband hosted a year ago. It was her 50th but they’d decided to turn it into a fund raiser for Doctors Without Borders. The musical group, Gypsy Jazz Caravan, from NY City helped to make it a magical night and it was such a success that the community and their friends begged for more.

Now, their shop, Bowen Barn, has become an occasional venue for talented musicians and this upcoming event on Oct. 7th, is their latest undertaking.

The two performers who are featured are top notch musicians. Howard Levy is a multiple Grammy-Award winner and master of the diatonic harmonica, a superb pianist and an innovative composer. Equally at home in all aspects of the genre he manages to bring a fresh approach to whatever he plays. Howard has appeared on hundreds of CDs and played on many movie soundtracks.

Joe Craven is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and award winning educator. He plays a variety of string instruments, including fiddle, mandolin, ukulele, balaliaka, and just about anything else he can get his hands on in the percussion field. He is the Director of River Tunes Music Camp and a co-director of the Wintergrass Youth Academy.

These two have paired up before and, by all accounts, they provide an evening that’s hard to beat. If any of you readers live close to Dutchess County, New York, you might want to head down to Bowen Barn in Stanfordville on Oct. 7th.

Look for the elephant on the porch roof and tell them Ginnie sent you

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A partial repeat … and an ongoing journey

In August of 2010 I posted this picture on my blog accompanied by the following words:

“Isn’t this a lovely card? It was sent to me from my niece in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Her mother is my oldest sister Mary, now in a Rest Home in that area and I visited with them last month.

The words on the card are from a Danish Proverb and read:
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

That really touched me because it described our relationship in a nutshell. My niece is a very talented artist who has sacrificed the last two years to caring for her mother and seeing that her teenage son gets the best education possible. This is all very commendable but it has left little time or energy for her to pursue her own dreams.”

Well … that was 13 months ago and so much has happened since then. Her mother, my sister Mary, passed away quietly in December and her son is now off to college. Wendy can finally put herself on center stage and she’s done just that !

She applied for and was granted an Arts Fellowship at the Scuola Internationzale de Grafica in Venice, Italy and she‘s there for the months of August, September and October.

If you “google” Wendy Hansen Studio it takes you to her sites, one of which is her blog highlighting the colorful scenes of Venice. I was delighted to find that she has the gift of prose, as well as being a fine artist. That is reflected here in her blog description:

“this post highlights some of the "dolce", or sweet, surprises that reveal themselves around every corner of Venice. Oh, if we could only learn from Venetians not to fear joy!”

Isn’t that wonderful ?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A dream and a disaster in 2001...

On September 4th, 2001, my good friend Douglas and I took off for a months stay in Italy. This had been my dream for many years and it was finally coming true. In order to make it financially feasible we’d decided to travel by public transportation and to stay in guest monasteries … the one pictured here is where we stayed in Florence.

Our first three days were spent in Rome and the next two in Orvieto. It was almost too much to absorb and we gave a sigh of relief, on the 6th day, which was September 10th, when we arrived in the small town of Bavagna. This is a charming place with two small piazzas tucked in between ancient buildings and churches.

We chose Bavagna because it was close to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. We were anxious to see that but didn’t want to lodge in that more touristy town. A rickety old bus took us there on the morning of Sept. 11th, and returned us to Bavagna at approximately 4:30 that afternoon.

The first inkling that something was wrong was when the people in the Piazza excitedly called out to us …“Americani,” and pointed to the little bar and coffee shop insisting that we go there. The shop boasted the only TV in the square and it was just recording the horrific events of 9-11. We actually saw the live pictures of the second tower being attacked.

I will never forget that day and the feeling of being so far from home and so totally useless. By the time we got to a phone all the lines were clogged and it was impossible to reach anyone in the U.S. One of the nuns where we were staying took us under her wing and, although we could barely understand what she was saying, it made no difference. Her love and compassion were just what we needed.

We toyed with the idea of going back home but finally decided to trudge on and that’s what we did. In every town, small or large, the Italians grieved with us and let us know how much they cared. Their out-flowing of love was astounding.

I lost my friend Douglas to cancer in 2005 but the memory of him and of our amazing trip will forever be highlights in my life.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Anyone for an ANIMAL CRACKER ???

Remember these little gems? They’re still around … as I found out when a co-worker brought a big jug of them recently to the Clinic where I volunteer twice a week. It really jogged my memory as I happily munched out on a handful of them.

I think I first became aware of them way back in the 1930’s. I can’t remember my exact age but I do recall that my sisters and I were each given one of the little boxes with the strings attached as a Christmas treat. We would hang them on the tree when they were empty !

I was interested to read that they actually were imported from England in the late 19th century although the Barnum animal theme came many years later, as did the colorful packaging. But what really struck me, as I ate my fill, was how delightfully different they are from the sickly sweet cookies and candies that are foisted on us today.

I dare say that the sugar industry has done a thorough job in changing the taste buds of America. No wonder we have a crisis of obesity in our country and it’s time we turned the clock back to that simpler time … when a box of Animal Crackers was all the sweetness we needed.